Wednesday, March 31, 2010

In which I reflect further on things that are unfair and things that seem unfair

This all began last week while I was on an excursion with the junior and his class mates and they were learning how to be convicts. It was a lovely day, and they were the cleanest, politest convicts anyone ever saw, which made their teachers proud and happy. Perhaps they were impersonating 80 very short con-artists.

The week before, the class had gone on camp and had a rather exciting and very exhausting time, as I may have mentioned. During the excursion one young fellow sat beside me and said ' Are you Noodle's Mum?' (except he didn't say Noodle, because that would be silly). And I said 'yes I am' because I am, and it seemed like a pretty simple sort of question. The young feller told me a long tale about how they'd walked a long way at camp, and everyone was very tired. Very tired, he iterated. One of his friends had a sore ankle, he said. 'Oh dear', says I, 'that's not good.' 'No,' says the young feller.

A bit of silence for a while. We looked at the view.

'Noodle got to go back in the car,' he said. 'Oh,' I said. 'Because he was tired' he said. 'Yes,' I said.

'We were all Very Tired,' says the young feller, with the lowered brows of especial significance.

'Hmmm, ' thinks I.

'So why did Noodle get a lift, and no one else?' He comes to his point. 'It's not fair.'

And I see his point. They were all very tired, and it doesn't seem fair. I was a bit thrown, because I didn't want to say to him, 'it's because the Noodle's father and I have done such a good job of impressing on your teachers that the Noodle is fragile and easily damaged that they are rather scared they might accidentally kill him and so they take very good care of him indeed, ' or I could have said 'because it's considerably more unlikely that you or your friend with the sore ankle would end up needing to take days off school, or go to the doctor or end up in hospital because of your tiredness.' So I fluffed about a bit and murmured something like, 'yes it must seem unfair, but the Noodle gets Very, Very Tired.' Or some such words unhelpful to my interlocutor and my son alike.

But I did quite like this young fellow's journey on the road to deciding what was fair and unfair. He was undoubtedly a very decent fellow and was not trying to be rude but just really, really wanted to know why in this case something was fair for someone but not for someone else.

Somehow this made me think of shock jocks and ex-Prime Ministers and English people who supported fascism before the War* and that's when I had my dose of outrage yesterday. An eight year old boy is entitled to a fairly simplistic notion of fairness. It's part of growing up and besides, he was actively trying to extend his notion of what might be fair. Those Other People cannot say the same, and that is when I got angry.

I didn't say to the young lad, but sometimes the unfairness of what some people (including the Noodle sometimes) have to put up with makes me cry and other days it just makes me furious.

*a person may have been reading George Orwell essays which might be a contributory factor in the generation of outrage.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Crapology, the 15 minutes of sanity sleep and why I need a break from Radio National

Hello all. Yes, that is your outrage-o-meter beeping loudly. I am a walking talking outrage generator right now. I am the Three Mile Island of Outrage and you do not want your puppies, children or teeth anywhere near me right now.

'And what are you so outraged about, young woman?' I hear you say (now that the beeping has thankfully ceased). And I answers you, EVERYTHING AaaaAAAaaaAArgh! Because things are not fair and people who have nearly everything including a whopping great massive Sense of Entitlement think that it's not fair if someone else gets something, even if the someone else has less than nothing compared to Old Mr Entitlement over there. 'It's not fair' whines Mr Entitlement, sucking up three quarters of the world's resources, 'that person is getting something I haven't got, give me one'.

I say to you, Mr Entitlement, you bloated, selfish, ignorant pig, with your clean water, education, decent food at a reasonable price, surplus wages, tax cuts, middle-class welfare and your goddam Giant Cup of Privilege NOW WITH EXTRA PRIVILEGE!!!!! shut up shut up shut up shut up until infinity. When you share your goddam entitlements and benefits and ignorant unthinking piggish greediguts surplus with other people, then maybe you can talk about what other people might have that you don't have, eh?

Two points. One, I was woken up a little early this morning by a spider falling on my head and I realised (quite separately from my spider anxiety) that the last few minutes of expected sleep is the disputed border land between a calm, sane, pleasant existence and something resembling insane rage. Two, despite the general intelligence and interest of Radio National's morning programming, I need a break from hearing about things that Drive Me Up the Wall in the mornings, so it's back to Classic FM for me for a while.

Also, 'I'm sorry if your feelings were hurt' is a crapology, not an apology.

Otherwise, very well, thanks for asking.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Saturday, March 27, 2010


While, in principle, I approve of the idea of inventing your own assignment topics, I am presently at a loss. I need to find something I care enough about relating to contract law that I can write 2,000 words on. It is not a lot of words, I know.

But I fear it is about 1,963 words more than I can commit to on the topic.

We did have a short and interesting history of the Adventures of Equity this afternoon. I found it difficult to reconcile my lecturer's enthusiasm for Courts of Equity (especially the belated NSW model) with my knowledge of Jarndyce v Jarndyce.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Act early, act often.

Jacqui at Terrible Palsy has much information about campaigning for support for people with disabilities in the run up to the next Federal election.

Promissory Estoppel

My interest in the law does seem to have a limit. I am heartily glad that the Australian High Court thinks that unconscionable conduct is to be prevented. I am thrilled that I can leave the question in their Honours capable brains.

Rather glad that I only have a few days of contract law to suffer through, because I don't wish to grow up to be a real lawyer. Very much looking forward to getting back into the realms of public law next month.

Monday, March 22, 2010

'Does anyone here like the Pixies?'

So here we are back at home after our weekend in Melbourne in which we did many delightful things. We stayed with my brother and nephew, visited a still very new baby with beautiful eyes and a look of great amazement and had lunch at the Ringwood RSL with my grandpa who is nearly 90, but you would never guess it.

But mostly what we did was go to see the Pixies play Doolittle live at Festival Hall with quite a lot of other people who look like they were more used to listening to music in their living rooms, actually. Possibly including the band. Despite a dogged lack of showmanship from the band, it was a fantastic show. The music didn't really need any extra faff, and someone had put together a great series of animations and films and bits to screen behind, which made things visually interesting, but also somehow domestic (see lounge rooms above).

Kim Deal made a bit of an effort to introduce sections of the show, and she looked extremely chuffed at the adoration and excitement of the crowd. She beamed, in fact. Which made the crowd like her even more and created a little charm feedback loop. Which always makes for the funnest nights out, I think.

They started with B-sides, which I didn't know being a strictly album girl when it comes to the Pixies. Then they played singalong versions of all the tracks on Doolittle, with highlights (as you would expect) being Debaser, Wave of Mutilation, I Bleed and Here Comes Your Man. Everyone was dancing and singing and waving arms in the air in the approved fashion. In these non-smoking days the appearance of the lighter was very limited.

Festival Hall came into its own when the main set finished. The Pixies (or someone else) had choreographed a very mumsy and pleasing Big Goodbye, where they all stood at different parts of the stage waving like a parent whose kid was off to camp for the first time (see below).

Something I had forgotten, but remembered immediately, was the fabulously resonant roar that stamping on the floor makes at Festival Hall when calling for an encore. It would never work at the Tennis Centre or the MCG. So they came back and played the slow version of Wave of Mutilation and finished in a blast of light and smoke and disappeared without saying a second Big Goodbye. And some people left, but everyone else stomped some more and back they came again, but they had run out of Doolittle songs, so they played Velouria and Planet of Sound and finished with Gigantic, and there was indeed a big, big love and the house lights were on and everyone went home.

Or caught the tram to Thornbury, because even though it was a good long set, it wasn't too late for public transport.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah

Junior is off on his first-ever overnight school camp. Things he was concerned about:

  • how to carry his pillow
  • where the toilets would be
  • who he would share a cabin with.

Things he was excited about:
  • making damper.
We adult-types went out for dinner and ate spicy food.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Do you want some cheese to go with your whine?

The kid doesn't want me to read to him any more. Waaaaaaaah.

It's because I couldn't keep making up different manly voices while reading Lord of the Rings. I was doing fine until we got to Rohan, and suddenly there's a bucket load more dialogue and way too many manly men. My throat got very sore indeed (which was useful for orc voices).

The Noodle also announced yesterday that the problem with Lord of the Rings is that only one character has a personality. Any guesses?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Kitchen frenzy

Somehow today turned into a bit of a baking festival, with pumpkin scones, egg and bacon pie and meringues (to use up the left-over egg whites from the egg and bacon pie). As a result the kitchen is full of bowls with remnants of sticky stuff, variously orange, yellow and white. Also saucepans from the pumpkin.

The pie turned into a kind of spready omelet on top of pastry. The scones turned out a right treat. The meringues are looking a little too cooked on the outside, and still have 15 minutes to go according to the recipe. Our oven is hotter on top than on the bottom to a sometimes alarming degree, so I fear we might have slightly brown, slightly chewy meringues instead of little fluffy bundles of sugary cloudliness. But they cannot be worse than the last lot (shudder).

Also we are going to sit outside and listen to some kind of symphony this evening and my assignment is nearly ready to hand in.

All of which makes it sound like a good day, but really it wasn't so much.

Assignment stress

Frankly, you'd think I'd be over it by now, but apparently not. Why are study deadlines different to any other deadlines?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Things that are abundant in Canberra

Open space
Hot air balloons
Acceptable without being brilliant coffee
Downright bad coffee
People in grey suits
White through the pale colour spectrum to beige buildings
Pizzas that Greg Combet likes*
Short ugly sentences
Long complicated ugly sentences
School children who are used to the Deputy Prime Minister dropping in for a photo op
Friendly but quite incompetent hospitality staff
Cliches (please imagine the accent over the 'e' - if I were a better than quite incompetent blogger I would be able to add it in).

*I don't actually know if he likes them, but I have seen him buying them and smiling at the same time, so either he was looking forward to delicious pizza, or is just very polite to friendly but moderately competent hospitality staff.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Sweet nostalgia

On the one hand, tomorrow marks 97 years since the first sod was turned for this wonderful national capital of Canberra. Let us all be grateful that it is not called Shakespeare or New Albion or SydBriMelAdPerHo or somesuch. Lady Denman, we salute you.

On a smaller, but tastier, note of nostalgia, Mr Muddle's Melting Moments, courtesy of the Mr Men Cookbook, are just as delicious to me today as they were 30-odd years ago. Mr Muddle, we salute you too.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Some kind of shock (not G-rated today - strong language and adult themes)

Over at Blue Milk there's a bit of discussion about such things as shaving one's underarms and legs and the nature of feminist decisions and choices.

Last night on Hungry Beast they showed a segment about cosmetic surgery on people's vaginas, which seems like a super-sized version of the same kind of issue, that is, who has the right to determine what is acceptable, appealing or attractive about a woman's body?

Apparently some women feel that their vaginas are not the correct or acceptable shape and have surgery to alter the profile. The TV show had some footage of a scalpel peeling away some of a woman's flesh, the bit of the labia minora that was exposed outside.

The thesis of the show was the censorship, from the Classification Board, is to blame for women's skewed view of their bits, because the Classification Board is more likely to accept smooth looking vaginas in soft porn photos than bulgy, bulky or more lippy looking vaginas. These ones are then refused classification or sealed away in plastic and popped up on the top shelf (implied the show - I don't know the truth of it).

I think this is a bit of a long bow to draw. I don't recall the Classification Board being a particularly large market for pornography, actually. The magazine designer Hungry Beast spoke to (and showed photo shopping many women's bodies) claimed that it was never a commercial decision to alter the appearance and that it was only in response to Classification Board guidelines. It seems most disingenuous of the designer to say so, and really rather disingenuous of the show to accept it without much dispute or analysis. After all, it is not the Classification Board insisting that women who appear bulgy or bulky in other areas of their bodies are never, ever seen in pornography or other kinds of magazines. Somehow that just happens, apparently.

The key point of the program, though, that women feel pressured into getting surgery on perfectly healthy bits of their bodies is bloody terrible. What bothers me more than anything is that women thing they have to go to these lengths to please their partners or some imaginary potential partner, and that their partners must be so hung up on appearances (in an extraordinary narrow way) that they are encouraging, supporting or pressuring women into something so ridiculous.

Kaz Cooke wrote in the eternal classic, A Modern Girl's Guide to Safe Sex, that a bloke once told her (and I paraphrase) that he would put a kettle on his dick if it meant getting a root. I can't help thinking that people who are attracted enough to each other to want to get down and dirty shouldn't be looking at each other's active ingredients in a such a critical light. They should be thinking more along the lines of 'woo' and 'hoo' than - 'hmm, if only I could get this other person down to the surgeon licketty split then I could really have a good time'. Frankly, that seems a bit more than dysfunctional and spilling over into something like controlling or abusive. And not based on mutual attraction at all. Leaving out other discussions of love, respect and fun and all.

Also, factoring in recovery time, surely that surgery would put you off your game for quite some time? Why would a surgeon do such a thing to someone anyway? Is there any risk of infection? And who spends all their time thinking so much about the appearance of their vaginas? Do they not have good books to read?

Disclosure: I really have utterly no experience of pornography at all, and haven't spent a lot of time thinking about appearance issues, so this came as something of a shock to me.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Work and School

Does anyone else go through occasional periods of just not being the kind of employee they would like to be? Or perhaps more accurately, not being the kind of employee you would like to work with?

I think I've just been through one. I hope it doesn't happen again for a long, long time.

The Noodle also had a bad day at school today. He said that nothing was wrong, exactly, but nothing went right either. He had 20 minutes of fun reading Asterix after he got home from school and the rest was a write-off. The dinner we made was horrible to his tongue and he melted down over his symmetry homework. The difference between a year or two ago and now is that he went back and finished his homework after a few minutes calming down instead of being inconsolable for hours. That's a good thing.